Cambridge has, at last, a traffic-free river crossing which cyclists can ride across with the full approval of both our local councils. The obstructive bollards which prevented cyclists riding across the Fort St George Bridge on Midsummer Common have been mostly removed and the ‘cyclists dismount’ signs have been replaced with ones saying ‘cyclists give way to pedestrians’. An L-shaped barrier has been introduced at the right-angle corner on the south side, which narrows the width for cyclists but which is intended to segregate pedestrians and cyclists at the place where the two are most likely to come into conflict. Although this is an experimental scheme it is also one of the best – and certainly the most cost-effective – things the County Council has done for cyclists in several years and instantly opens up this route as a quiet alternative to Mitcham’s Corner. If you use this bridge and like the changes, please write to your local Councillors in support.
There’s more good news a few hundred metres downstream. Cutter Ferry Bridge, also on Midsummer Common, has been closed since November 2003 when the County Council discovered it was unsafe. This was another bridge which cyclists had to wheel their bikes across. Cambridgeshire County Council has now decided that instead of repairing the bridge it is to be replaced, at a cost of £350,000, with a wider bridge that cyclists can use without dismounting. Other bridge repair work, including the refurbishment of the Devonshire Road cycle bridge over the railway, will be deferred to make funds available. The County Council has told us that work will start on the new bridge this summer.
The Coldham’s Lane Cycle Bridge, adjacent to the road bridge where it crosses the railway, is expected to open on 8 June. It will prove handy for city-bound cyclists who currently find the narrow road over the bridge blocked with queuing traffic at busy times or who feel intimidated by motor vehicles waiting behind to overtake. Nevertheless we’ve got mixed feelings about this million-pound new bridge, and there are those who fear it might even make conditions worse for outbound cyclists who are likely to choose to remain on the road rather than cross the road twice to use the new bridge. We hope that these cyclists won’t be harassed by impatient motorists who think they shouldn’t be on the road.
The Campaign would have preferred the million pounds to have been put towards a structure which allowed two-way use without crossing and re-crossing the road. For example, a reconstructed road bridge, or additional bridges on both sides of the existing road bridge.
The Milton Cycle Bridge over the A14 between Cambridge and Milton opened on 18 May. This long-awaited bridge will be a huge benefit to cyclists in the area by removing the need for cyclists to make a long diversion via the A14 roundabout, and the scary experience of crossing several busy slip roads without the help of signals. We will be reviewing the new bridge, and the cycle routes leading to it on each side, in our next issue.
The County Council is planning to introduce further bus priority on Newmarket Road between Ditton Walk and Barnwell Road. Plans are at an early stage with council officers expected to publish proposals in the autumn. We’ve been told that this does not necessarily mean a bus lane, though the local county councillor has written to the local newspaper stating that he supports one here. This is the only section of Newmarket Road which continues to have mandatory cycle lanes on each side. Installation of a bus lane would require either the removal of these cycle lanes or major carriageway widening.